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Months after spine injury, Steelers' Ryan Shazier still has sights on a Hall of Fame career

Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier wants to be a Hall of Famer — and he’s determined not to let a severe spine injury stop him from reaching that goal.

“I’m still reaching for that Hall of Fame because I really feel I’m the best linebacker ever,” Shazier said on teammate Roosevelt Nix’s podcast, which was posted on Tuesday. “I just got to be back out there so everybody can see it.”

Shazier’s comments were the first he’s made publicly since he was injured Dec. 4 while he was making a tackle against the Cincinnati Bengals. He underwent spinal stabilization surgery two days later and was discharged from the hospital for outpatient care on Feb. 1.

Although he’s been using a wheelchair to get around, Shazier, 25, said he’s been making great progress in his rehabilitation and is making sure the public is aware of that. On the day he got out of the hospital, Shazier posted a photo of himself standing next to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

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Five days later, Shazier stood for the crowd at a Pittsburgh Penguins game.

“I really wanted to do that because I felt everybody needed to see that,’’ Shazier told Nix about standing at the hockey game.

“At the end of the day, everybody saw the picture of me and Ben. I stood up. The thing is, in the picture, people were saying Ben supported me, too. He was barely even holding me. I was like I want to stand up so people can really see Ben ain’t just holding me up. This isn’t rigged.”

And though he still has a lot of hard work ahead of him, Shazier said he’s not even close to being done showing people what he can do.

“I got to get back,” the two-time Pro Bowler said. “Right now I’m reading a book and it’s basically saying trust the process. I’m really trusting the process. I know the end goal. So I’m taking every step of the way, I’m giving everything I got. The therapists are like, ‘Man this is crazy; I’ve never seen anyone work this hard.’ They almost see progression every day.

“They say like some progressions they see week to week, they see from me day to day. I’m really trying to come back and still be a Pro Bowler.”

charles.schilken@latimes.com

Twitter: @chewkiii

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